Weiner, Spitzer lead in NYC polls

Holly Bailey
Yahoo! News
FILE- In this July 8, 2013, file photo, New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner holds a news conference in New York the same day Eliot Spitzer announced his surprise entry into the race for New York City Comptroller. The former New York governor's surprise entry into the city comptroller's race now means there are two sex scandal-comeback stories competing for the media's attention, and the constant mention of both in the same breath has once again put Anthony Weiner back under the lens. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Driven from office by separate scandals, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer might get a second chance from New York City voters this fall, a new poll suggests.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that Weiner, a former congressman now running to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg, narrowly leads his closest rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 25 percent to 22 percent in a crowded Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, Spitzer, the former governor who launched a surprise, last-minute bid for city comptroller last week, leads his rival, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, 48 percent to 33 percent.

The poll comes roughly two months before the city's Sept. 10 Democratic primary, in which both men are trying to live down scandals that forced them out of office.

Spitzer was forced out of the governor’s office in 2008 when he was caught cheating on his wife with prostitutes. As attorney general, Spitzer had cracked down on the kind of prostitution rings he later was found to be patronizing.

Weiner, meanwhile, resigned his congressional seat in 2011 after he was caught sexting with women who were not his wife.

The new survey suggests the controversies aren’t hurting the former lawmakers’ comeback bids. A majority of Democrats say they believe both men should be running the offices they are seeking — though their support is stronger among men than women.

Sixty-four percent of men say Spitzer should be running, compared with 53 percent of women. On the same question, 59 percent of men say Weiner should be running, compared with 49 percent of women.

In the mayor’s race Quinn leads Weiner by just 2 points among women — well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. Asked about their opinion of Weiner, female voters polled were split: 37 percent said they have a “favorable” view, while 40 percent hold an “unfavorable” view.

In the comptroller’s race, 44 percent of women support Spitzer, compared with 32 percent for Stringer. Fifty percent of women polled said they had a “favorable” view of Spitzer, compared with 33 percent who said the opposite. By comparison, 28 percent of women held a favorable view of Stringer, while 63 percent said they didn’t know enough about him to say.

Spitzer and Weiner may be benefiting from an electorate that is more forgiving than most. Asked which is worse, financial impropriety or sexual misconduct, 69 percent picked the financial scandal compared with 22 percent who picked the sexual transgression.

The mayor’s race appears to be coming down to a draw between Weiner and Quinn — both of whom are vying to reach 40 percent support in the primary in order to avoid a runoff.

The other contenders trail Weiner and Quinn by double digits. They include former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who registered at just 11 percent support in the poll; Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (10 percent), current Comptroller John Liu (7 percent) and former City Councilman Sal Albanese (1 percent). Twenty-one percent remain undecided.

According to Quinnipiac, both Weiner and Spitzer are being boosted by strong support from the black community.

Spitzer leads Stringer 61 percent to 26 percent among black voters. In the mayoral primary battle, Weiner has the backing of 31 percent of black voters, far ahead of Quinn at 16 percent and Thompson, the only major black candidate in the mayoral field, at 14 percent.